Chinese streaming service iQiyi, a sort of Netflix–YouTube hybrid that produces films and series and also hosts user uploads, has turned off viewcounts on all videos after realizing click farms were being used to falsely inflate them.
iQiyi will implement a new video popularity metric it’s calling ‘Heat Value,’ according to The Verge, which will take into account how many times a video has been shared, liked, and commented on — rather than the number of times it’s been watched. iQiyi content officer Wang Xiaohui added that a video’s Heat Value will be created through user data and sorting algorithms to offer a “more comprehensive measure of content popularity.”
The company is also using this move to take aim at user-uploaded clickbait and other or misleadingly presented content. In a statement, iQiyi said it’s noticed a “willingness in some areas of the industry to overlook work of truly high quality” in order to indulge clickbait-y content. By deleting viewcounts, it hopes to direct users away from creating content solely for this purpose.
As The Verge points out, some homegrown iQiyi productions also have massive viewcounts, leading denizens of the internet to question the verity of those clicks as well. (Its historical series Story of Yanxi Palace, for example, hit 13 billion — yes, with a ‘B’ — views last month.)
iQiyi’s move shows just how widespread the fake view trade is. YouTube has struggled for years to combat click farms, and has “built, deployed and invested in proprietary technology to prevent the artificial inflation of video viewcounts,” a spokesperson recently told Tubefilter. An August investigation from The New York Times showed that while YouTube caught some fake views the Times purchased as a test, it did not catch the majority.